From Cal to Hall of Fame
Over the years, the California League has produced nineteen Hall of Famers beginning with the 1954 Bakersfield Indians' Don Drysdale.
Joe Morgan, of the 1963 Modesto Colt 45's, a Houston Colt 45's farm team, was the second inductee to Cooperstown.
Rollie Fingers and Reggie Jackson were teammates on the 1966 Modesto Reds and remain teammates in the Hall of Fame.
Don Sutton hurled for the 1965 Santa Barbara Dodgers.
George Brett couldn't even hit .300 playing in San Jose's Municipal Stadium for the Bees in 1972.
Hall of Fame Manager Sparky Anderson played for the 1953 Santa Barbara Dodgers and then managed the 1967 Modesto Reds.
Kirby Puckett patrolled the outfield in Recreation Park in Visalia for the Oaks in 1983.
It took Dennis Eckersley two years to get out of the California League as he hurled for the Reno Silver Sox in 1972 and 1973.
Hall of Fame Manager Dick Williams, played in the California League in its infancy in 1948 for the Santa Barbara Dodgers.
Rickey Henderson, the Major League all-time stolen base and runs scored leader, plus a member of the 3,000 hit club, led the California League in stolen bases with 95 while playing for the Modesto A's in 1977.
In 2010, former California League umpire Doug Harvey (1958-1960) became the ninth Umpire enshrined in Cooperstown.
2011 saw two more former California League players, Roberto Alomar, the league batting champion for the 1986 Reno Padres and 1959 Stockton Ports hurler Pat Gillick honored with induction into the Hall of Fame. Alomar was a lifetime .300 hitter over 17 seasons. He helped lead the Toronto Blue Jays to consecutive World Championships in 1992-1993. Gillick was a successful major league Executive, whose 1992-1993 Toronto Blue Jays and 2008 Philadelphia Phillies won World Series titles.
In 2014 two of the greatest managers in baseball history, Tony LaRussa, 1966 Modesto Reds and Bobby Cox, 1960 Reno Silver Sox were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Both won World Series titles and are in the top four of career victories, each winning over 2,500 games. 2015 saw the induction of the 1991 Bakersfield Dodgers'
Pedro Martinez , a three time Cy Young Award winner.
A year later, in 2016, Martinez' 1991 Bakersfield battery mate, catcher Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr., a 1988 San Bernardino Spirit, were enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. Griffey, Jr., elected in his first year of eligibility was voted in with the greatest percentage (99.3%) in Hall of Fame history as he was named on 437 of the 440 ballots.
In addition to these baseball legends, the California League has produced nineteen Most Valuable Player winners, the latest being 2018 American League MVP Jose Altuve (2010/2011 Lancaster JetHawks) of the Houston Astros.
Former California League hurlers swept the Cy Young Awards in 2017, with Max Scherzer (2007 Visalia Oaks) winning his third Cy Young Award with the Washington Nationals, while Corey Kluber (2008/2009 Lake Elsinore Storm) won his second with the Cleveland Indians. Twenty-one former Cal League pitchers have won the prestigious Cy Young Award. Included as multiple Cy Young award winners are Pedro Martinez who was a perfect 8-0 for the Bakersfield Dodgers in 1991 and Tim Lincecum who was 2-0 with the San Jose Giants in 2006. Thirty-five former California League players have won the Rookie of the Year Award with Cody Bellinger (2015 Rancho Cucamonga Quakes) winning the 2017 National League honor with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The California League has become the premiere Class "A" League in Minor League Baseball. Not only does the sun shine in California, but so do the stars that take the field for 140 games each year from April to September. See today's Minor League stars on their way to becoming tomorrow's Major League legends taking the field for the Inland Empire 66ers, Lake Elsinore Storm, Lancaster JetHawks, Modesto Nuts, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, San Jose Giants, Stockton Ports and the Visalia Rawhide.